Tibet, Vajrapani – Canda (2)

12th-13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze (copper alloy) with pigment, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

In his popular canda form wrathful Vajrapani normally brandishes a single thunderbolt sceptre (vajra) in his right hand; the above holds a double one (visvajra). He wears snake ornaments, a tiger skin around his waist, foliate jewellery and matching crown with rosettes, large floral earrings and a celestial scarf. His flaming hair is topped with a lotus bud finial.

13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, hollow brass with pigments, stone and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

His left hand may do a threatening gesture with the forefinger raised, or a gesture to ward off evil, as above. His tiger skin dhoti is fastened with a snake. His facial hair and mitre-like chignon are painted with orange pigment to signify his wrathful nature.

14th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, silver with turquoise, lapis lazuli and coral inlay, at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco (USA).

Although this one has lost his attribute, the position of the hands are those of canda Vajrapani.



Tibet, Makaramukha/Makravaktra

Undated, Tibet, Shri Devi retinue figure, copper alloy, at the Capital Museum in Beijing (China), published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This dakini has a human female body and the head of a makara (half crocodile and half elephant). She is adorned with bracelets, armlets and anklets, and has a human hide over her back and shoulders.  She is one of three animal-faced dakinis along with Simhamukha (lion-headed) and Sarvadulamukha (tiger-headed).

Late 18th century, or early 19th, Tibet, Makaramukha, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Mossgreen.

Like most dakinis, she adopts a ‘dancing pose’, one foot in the air, the other trampling on a victim, and wears a five-skull crown. The above  is adorned with a Chinese-style cross belt, bracelets and anklets. The human hide is worn loosely on her back.

17th century, Tibet, Makaravaktra, bronze.

Along with the lion-headed Simhavaktra, whom we have discussed in a previous post, Makaravaktra is an attendant to Magzor Gyalmo/Palden Lhamo (a form of Shri Devi much worshipped in Tibet). She is in charge of leading her mule or khyang (Tibetan wild ass). As an attendant, she is smaller than the main figure she accompanies.

18th century, Tibet, Makaravaktra, brass, at the Art Institute of Chicago.

On this example, we can see the arms of the human hide knotted across her chest and the legs dangling against hers.

17th-18th century, Tibet, bardo deity, gilt copper alloy, private collection, published on http://www.buddhacollectors.com.

This small makara-headed deity is often confused with Makaramukha, especially because most sculptures are separated from the original set, but, given that she is in charge of leading Shri Devi’s mount, she stands on both feet. Also, she doesn’t wear a skull crown.

18th century, Tibet, labelled dakini Makaramukha, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo from the Werner Forman Archive.

She usually holds her right hand  above her head, and on this sculpture we can see that she wields a thunderbolt sceptre (vajra).


Tibet, wrathful females (2)

13th century circa, Tibet, dakini, copper alloy, possibly from the Chakrasamavara retinue, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This wrathful dakini holds a skull cup and a flaying knife in her lower hands, a drum and a round object, possibly a fruit, in the upper ones. She is adorned with a five-skull crown , a garland of severed heads, and bone jewellery.

18th century, Tibet, Dakini, gilt copper alloy, at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum (USA).

Another ferocious-looking dakini, standing on two victims (one of them with an elephant head and four arms, possibly Ganapati) and holding a flaying knife and skull cup filled with blood.

18th century, Tibet, Bardo deity, private collection, published on http://www.thesaleroom.com

This figure is part of a set of bardo deities, most of them with an animal head (tramen). She stands with one leg on a female victim and wears bone jewellery and a five-skull crown plus a larger skull in her flaming hair. Her flaying knife is missing.


Tibet, Sitatapatra (2)

12th century, Tibet, Sitatapatra, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Tibetan sculptures of the  ‘White Parasol’ are few and usually late ones, those that depict her seated are extremely rare. The above is a three-head and eight-hand version. Her main hands are doing the ‘turning the wheel of dharma’ gesture, the other left hands hold a closed victory banner, a bow, and what looks like a water pot. The lower right hand holds a wheel (cakra), the others probably held a vajra sceptre and an arrow.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Sitatapatra, bronze, Van Ham auctions on http://www.lotissimo.com

This Pala revival image depicts Sitatapatra with one head and two hands, the left one folded to support a missing parasol. She may have had a wheel in the other.

Undated (18th century circa?), Tibet, Sitatapatra, metal (copper alloy with cold gold and pigments), at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford (UK).

The spectacular 1000 heads, 1000 arms and 1ooo legs version includes a parasol (broken here) in one of her main hands.

18th century, Tibet, Sitatapatra, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with cold gold (and pigments), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This one has lost all her side hands but still has a mirror in her main right hand (the other held the missing parasol).


Tibet, Naro Khechara (6)

16th century, Tibet, Sarvabuddhadakini, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This form of Vajrayogini is always portrayed as a young woman, naked, looking sideways towards the skull cup filled with menstrual blood which she raises to her lips, holding a flaying knife in her right hand lowered down. She may be adorned with a skull crown and a bone apron and she treads on one or two victims.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Sarvabuddhadakini, bronze, private collection, published on http://www.bumpercollection.org.

She has long hair, combed back.

Mid 17th century, Tibet, Sarvabuddhadakini, gilt copper repoussé with cast hands, feet and head, private collection, published on http://www.bumpercollection.org

The head is tilted to drink the blood from the cup.

18th century circa, same as before.

The right hand is held palm outwards.

18th century circa, same as before.

In Tibet she is known under various names linked to Naropa (Naro Dakini, Naro Khechara, etc.)

Undated (18th century?), Tibet, Naro Khechara, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

She often wears a garland of fifty freshly severed heads. The above wears skulls instead, and Chinese-style jewellery and accessories including a cross-belt.

Tibet, standing Tara (2)

12th century, Tibet, Tara, brass with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Standing on a tall lotus base with apple-like petals, Tara does the refuge-bestowing gesture with her left hand while holding the stem of a lotus, her right hand displaying supreme generosity. Her face is painted with cold gold, the hair is dyed with blue pigment. She wears a garland and a diaphanous sash across her chest and two see-through lower garments, held in place with a heavy belt decorated with pendants.

12th-13th century, Tibet, Tara, bronze with cold gold, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This Pala-style sculpture depicts her on a single lotus over a stepped tortoise-base typical of Northeast India, wearing a long stripy garment  with a stippled floral motif. Her low tiara with large bows reveals an exaggeratedly tall chignon with showy ornaments.

There  is a round object in the palm of her right hand, possibly a large gem.

There are over twenty different forms of Tara and most of them are usually seated but they may be standing.

Undated (18th century circa?), Tibet, Tara, gilt metal, at the Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York (USA).



Tibet, Green Tara (5)

12th century circa, Tibet, Tara, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Green Tara is seated on a tall Pala-style base, her right foot on a lotus, the stem of a lotus in her left hand, another wound around her right arm, the right hand displaying the fear-allaying gesture. We will note her left foot resting on the right thigh.

12th-13th century, Tibet, Tara, copper alloy, at the National Gallery of Canada.

Another Pala-style image of her with the left foot resting on the right leg. Her hands display the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture, she wears a very ornate floral and festooned headdress with a leonine medallion at the centre, foliate armbands, large hoops, a beaded necklace, plain bracelets and anklets, a long lower garment held in place with a belt.

13th century, Southern Tibet, Tara, brass, same as before.

A similar hair ornament with a large leonine head at the centre, her hair fastened into two bunches, her garment richly decorated with incised floral panels, a diamond incised in the palm of her hands. Her left leg is drawn in, with the big toe wide apart.

Labelled ’10th-12th century origin Kashmir or Nepal’ by the Museum, 14th century, Tibet on Himalayan Art Resources, Tara, brass with turquoise and cold gold, at the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada.

This Pala-style work portrays her with her hair fastened into a bunch on one side and another type headdress, with flowers, bows and ribbons. A broad necklace covers the top of her chest.

18th century, Tibet, Tara, at the Ashmoleum Museum in Oxford (UK).

This is an example of the late Pala-revival style, the goddess’s left hand holding a lotus and leaning on her left knee, her right hand displaying the fear-allying gesture.

18th century, Western Tibet, Tara, bronze (copper alloy) with silver inlay, at the National Gallery in Prague (Czech Republic).

On this variant the left hand simply rests over the knee, the toes of the left foot are held wide apart. Silver inlay has been used for the floral and vegetation pattern on both garments.